Friday, December 22, 2006

Pardon Me

Mills of the gods

The President, both yours and mine issued 16 pardons yesterday. The pardon is one of the better powers a President has at his/her disposal. He is entitled to pardon any one for any Federal Crime he wants, no matter how henious. Most people have already forgotten the last scandal of the Clinton administration, when Bill left office pardoning everyone who had managed to get arrested during his eight years in office. The first President Bush pardoned former Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, and of course the big enchilada of pardons happened when Gerald R. Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for any crimes he committed while serving as President. The all time most famous pardon in history was Pontius Pilot's thumbs up for Barabas, although Pilot could claim that he had just acted on popular will, something Gerald Ford could not claim.Unfortunatly for Ford, he, unlike Pilot, had to run for reelection and the Nixon pardon certainly contributed to his defeat by Jimmy Carter (who in just four years pardoned 563 applicants, most of them from south of the Mason-Dixon line). I don't know if the peanut man would have pardoned his old head of OMB, Bert Lance. Bert had risen to that job based on his sterling performance as President of the Calhoun National Bank.Six months into his term, serious questions were raised against Lance for corruption that took place in the Calhoun Bank (perhaps by Kingfish) while Bert was Chairman. He beat the rap in a trial and later went on to be accussed of even more financial hanky panky in the BCI scandals of the 80s and 90s. Bert was a banker for all seasons and scandals.

In comparison with these monumental felonies, the Bush II pardon list is down right pedestrian. He pardoned a former Federal employe who had approved payment for office supplies in possible exchange for car parts, a radio and a freezer (no turkey ? ).He also pardoned a few assorted druggies whom I assume have made amends for their crimes by being regular contributors to the Republican party since the times of their unfortunate incarcerations.

Glaringly missing (if that is possible) from the pardon list was one Martha Stewart. Everyone knows that Martha never did anything illegal except trying to cover up her perfectly legal activites, which, under American law, gets you sent off to the clinker. It would have made a fantastic Holiday Special, "Home for the Holidays, Martha gets pardoned " . It would have boosted George's sagging fortunes, done the right thing by Martha, and provided a photo op with the cute tag line "George pardons Martha".They could have both worn old revolutinary war era costumes.

I have always thought that the way to undercut any Democrats candidacy for President would be to spread the rumor that he was prepared to pardon Roman Polansky, if elected. There are certain people that America won't forgive, no matter what, and,with the exception of Nixon, they are never pardoned.Mr Polansky will never be back in America.

The worst thing about getting a pardon is that one of the factors that the President considers is elapsed time since the crime. Most guys pardoned seem to have screwed up at least 20 years before. Like Marie Georgette Biere who has been out of prison for a quarter century and presumably living a nice quiet life. Then she gets pardoned, and every paper in the country identifies her as once having served time for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.Suddenly the neighbors are a bit more suspicious of old Aunt Georgette who lives down the block.

Despite this, pardons are a good thing. I think each of us, at the end of a year, should reflcct back on those who have upset us the past year and pardon them. Give them a clean slate for the coming year and expect only the best from them. As Sgt. Wojo once said on the Barney Miller show when asking for forgivness, "Forgivenes is divine........ be divine Barney ! "


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